Natalee Holloway case: Joran van der Sloot pleads not guilty

A month after an agreement was reached between the governments of Peru and the U.S., and almost two decades since the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, the main suspect in the woman’s disappearance was extradited to the U.S. on Thursday.

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Joran van der Sloot is facing a single count of extortion and wire fraud in the U.S., The Washington Post reported.

Pleads not guilty

Update 12:19 p.m. EDT June 9: Van der Sloot has pleaded not guilty in federal court to the alleged extortion of Holloway’s mother.

- Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Arrives in U.S.

Update 3:30 p.m. EDT June 8: Joran van der Sloot arrived in the United States Thursday to face charges of attempting to extort money from Holloway’s mother, according to The Associated Press.

- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Flight departs

Update 10:08 a.m. EDT June 8: The Associated Press reported that van der Sloot has left Peru on board a flight destined for the U.S.

Original report: Van der Sloot has been behind bars in Peru serving a 28-year sentence in a maximum-security prison for the murder of a woman. He was transferred over the weekend to a detention facility in Lima in advance of his extradition on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

Initially, Peru was going to extradite van der Sloot after he had served his murder sentence, but reversed that decision when the U.S. and Peru agreed that the extradition would be temporary and that van der Sloot would be returned to South America to serve the rest of the sentence, CNN reported.

Holloway, 18, disappeared in 2005 after she left a bar during a trip to Aruba with friends. Van der Sloot, a Dutch citizen, was on the island studying at an international school. Holloway was seen leaving the bar with van der Sloot, who was considered a suspect. Two Surinamese brothers were also called suspects.

Van der Sloot and the two brothers were arrested and released in 2005 and 2007 in connection with Holloway’s disappearance but in December 2007, prosecutors in Aruba said that they would not be charged and the investigation was dropped saying there was not enough evidence, CNN reported.

Holloway was never found and a judge eventually declared her dead, but no charges have ever been filed in her disappearance or death.

The charges that van der Sloot faces are connected to accusations that he tried to extort money from Holloway’s family in 2010. He told them that he knew where her body was and would tell them if they would pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, sent $15,000 to a Netherlands bank account owned by van der Sloot and, through an attorney, gave him another $10,000 in person. Van der Sloot took attorney John Kelly to a spot he said the teen’s body was hidden, but the location was false, CNN reported.

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